Manchester Arena bombing inquiry: why a hearing on the terror attack is taking place - and what could happen next

The names of the 22 victims were read out on day one of the Manchester Arena inquiry

Monday, 7th September 2020, 4:08 pm
An inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing is being held a short distance from where the attack took place (Getty Images)

The public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing got under way on Monday morning.

The hearing takes place over three years after the attack which left 22 dead including attacker Salman Abedi.

The inquiry had been due to take place in June but was delayed by the trial of the attacker’s brother Hashem, who was found guilty of the 22 murders and will spend at least 55 years in prison.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that it is vital that the family of victims are given “answers” and authorities “learn lessons”.

What is the inquiry?

The inquiry has been set up to “explore the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the terror attack".

Chaired by judge Sir John Saunders the inquiry will look at the events of May 22, 2017, the security arrangements in place and the response to the bombing.

The inquiry will also look at the radicalisation of terrorist Salman Abedi and brother Hashem.

Families of the victims will also have the opportunity to present personal evidence about their loved ones, while it will also hear how each victim died.

It is taking place at the Manchester Magistrates' Court, a short distance from Manchester Arena.

The inquiry will hear from a variety of witnesses, including those involved in the emergency response and the owners of Manchester Arena.

Steward Kyle Lawler, a key witness in the attacks who was advised of the presence of a man with a large rucksack, will also be questioned.

It is scheduled to run until spring 2021.

Why is there an inquiry?

The inquiry website stated that the aims of the hearing were to find out "exactly what happened" and "what must be done to prevent it from happening again".

Though inquiries are unable to bring criminal or civil proceedings against individuals, they can raise awareness of any failings by authorities.

The inquiry will also allow for the hearing of testimony from police and MI5 staff in a closed setting, preventing any threat to national security.

What happened on day one?

Loved ones of the 22 people murdered at the Manchester Arena stood in silent remembrance as the names of the victims were recited at the opening of the public inquiry into the terror attack.

The sombre start to proceedings began with Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, reading the names of each of those murdered by suicide bomber Salman Abedi on May 22, 2017.

Families, lawyers and chairman of the inquiry Sir John Saunders, a retired High Court judge, stood with heads bowed for the minute’s silence.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders then formally opened the inquiry.

He said: “This is an exercise in establishing the truth.

“If I conclude things went wrong then I shall say so but we are not looking for scapegoats. We are searching for the truth.

“The explosion killed 22 people, including children. The youngest was eight years old.

“Salman Abedi blew himself up in the explosion but he intended as many people as possible would die with him.”

The inquiry heard that security services had been alerted by members of the public to the presence of Salman Abedi.

One member of the public, a William Drysdale, spotted Salman Abedi, 22, wearing a large backpack and thought he was praying, less than an hour before he detonated his bomb at 10.31pm on May 22, 2017, in the City Room of the Manchester Arena.

A second witness with Mr Drysdale then approached a British Transport Police (BTP) officer, the hearing was told.